I grew up in a world where Mom only locked the doors if we were going to be gone for more than one overnight. Dad left a spare key out where we could find it if we needed it – and that was to the business and the house.

I grew up in tiny villages (300 people) to small towns (5000 people) to a college town (18K – with all the students).

I didn’t start locking my car till my backpack was stolen freshman year of high school. Mostly I was pissed because I had a report in there that was completed and untyped and I had to redo it.

I didn’t grow up in a bubble – Dad was a mortician, a county coroner, death happened, it also paid the bills. Sitting at Dad’s desk meant risking seeing photos of “oh wow, that’s what happens when a Ford Probe meets a telephone pole …. daaaaaaamn.” Going to get him from “the back” sometimes came with the shock of realizing he was working on a tiny little person who wasn’t going to grow up.

I live in an Air Force town. War and fighting are relevant in the abstract. After 9/11, when the skies were quiet everywhere else, we had B2s flying east … and home again.

I did grow up without violence in my face – it belonged on tv and very rarely made it close to my life. I didn’t think about things like “tactical advantage“.

The first time I touched a gun was when I was dolled up for bridesmaid duty, I drunkly tossed my arm around the waist of my matching groomsman and my hand landed perfectly grasping the butt of his gun. As I did the sharp intake of breath, he said “smile” …. and I did. Brilliantly beautiful smile covering the OMGWTFBBQGUN reaction in my head.

After that, I started dating said groomsman. I learned about not wanting to have your back to a door, I got used to glowing nightsights in the dark of a bedroom, paperwork filed in triplicate in airports, having a meetup point if shit went south at a football game and we needed to beat a retreat.

It was a different way of thinking, I didn’t like it, I didn’t like looking at the world with eyes sweeping left to right and back again while being on the watch for crazy. I got used to it though. It was a way of life, and at the root of it was the knowledge that being aware meant we had each others’ back. Nothing bad was happening TO us if we could help it.

Now I am a good shot with a gun. Some guns. My accuracy varies widely. I know basics. Such as “always assume the gun is loaded and ready and treat it as such”, “only put your finger on the trigger if you intend to pull it”, “only aim it at something or someone you want a great big fucking hole in”.

Now I have to have conversations with my son about them. “See this? This is a gun, it is loud, it can put big holes in things and hurt people. If you want to see it, touch it, talk about it, you get an adult and we will explain to you anything you want to know. The gun sits on a shelf waaaaay up there where you can not reach it. Please do not try to get it alone – all you EVER have to do is ask and we will get it and teach you about it.” Calm conversation. Giving him facts he can understand, explaining safety, not creating fear, teaching respect.

In a circumstance of an intruder in my home, I’m fairly certain my response will be getting to Alex and bailing us out his window and running like the wind, all thoughts of bang behind me. I’m okay with that. In my head, my priority is having Alex’s back and getting us away from danger.

M’love is a raging rabid 2nd amendment fan. He has an assortment of guns, including the currently target for the anti gun crowd – the AR15. People are making points that AR15s are only for killing people … lots of people … no need for civilians to have them – Others are screaming 2nd amendment! 2nd amendment! Give me my weapons!

Here’s the deal as I see it. Ready?

Where is the limit of what weapons we want in the hands of civilians? On a continuum of Slingshot to Nuclear Warhead – where is the line drawn? Seems a reasonable way to go about discussion. Provided people are reasonable about it.

Which brings me to my next point. Reasonable people.

I held an AR15 last month. Shot it. Several times. Never had the urge to whip it around and shoot anyone. (To be totally honest, M’love snickered at one point and I did consider pistol whipping him with it… but that is another discussion entirely).

That man in Colorado? Something was sprung in his head. Take away his guns and he would have used bombs, take away his fuses, he would have used a vehicle, take away his vehicle and he would have used tomatoes. Somewhere along the way, he decided that mass murder was a good idea. I’m pretty sure he didn’t have a friend there who looked at his outfit and said, “Hey man, enjoy the show tonight, let me know if Christian Bale is still using the gargling marbles voice.”

I bring it around to this. We all need someone watching our back. We need to feel connected to a person or people or community. We need to give a damn about someone and want the best for them, want to protect them. We also need people who are looking out for us. We need the girlfriend who says, “I’m not going in public with you in that outfit”. We need the conservative/liberal opposites like I have with Mommentator. We need to remind each other to not be sheep when listening to the charismatic voices on the radio. We need the person who reminds us we have value when we feel like the whole world has gone crazy and is against us.

I believe focusing on the weapons is a mistake, I believe focusing on the people and what happened to lead them to that very messed up place is a better use of our energy.

We need people to have our back. We need to invest in others and watch their backs as well.